Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Midweek musings

There were plenty of mails after last night's blog. Several hadn't realised that Kim Barnett's formative years in Derbyshire colours were so unproductive, but a glance at your Wisdens or the Cricket Archive website will confirm last night's statistics.

The difference being, of course, that Barnett was a callow youth in a good batting side, where Hill, Wright, Wood, Kirsten and Steele gave a sound foundation to most innings and the odd ill-judged flirtation outside off stump could be forgiven. I don't think anyone who watched Barnett in those early seasons would have seen in him perhaps the greatest Derbyshire batsman of his generation and arguably the best ever.

It all happened - although of course his natural talent was a factor - because he was given opportunity by Phil Russell. He promoted him to open the innings, gave him the responsibility of the captaincy and the rest, as they say, is history. He might have made it had he remained in the middle order, but Russell's actions were a stroke of genius, confirming what a very good coach and judge of players he was.

Which is the point I was making about Ben Slater. It would be silly to make a judgement on the lad's worth as a county cricketer without giving him opportunity to bat where he has made his runs at lower levels of the game. We may as well give him a chance in the second half of the season and see how it goes. You just don't know with young players, but you have to give them a go.

The problem for our young players is that they're all trying to come through at the same time and there's only three experienced batsmen alongside them. In any one side we will have three batsmen making their way in the game and it is hard for them, especially on wickets like the one for the latest match. When a world-ranked batsman like Chanderpaul struggles, when high-class openers such as Trescothick and Compton  do so, we cannot realistically expect young lads to come in and smack it around.

Their development will be hindered to some extent by such wickets, though we might win a match or two along the way. The problem may come though, that the seamers will become used to easier pickings at Derby and find themselves exposed when they have to work harder for wickets further afield. Then you will see how good bowlers they are. It was an accusation against Les Jackson that he took most of his wickets on helpful home tracks, one laid to rest when statistics showed he was even more successful away. I'd wager that with him in the attack yesterday, Somerset would not have made three figures...

By the same token, the wicket made at least for a good game of cricket, unlike the track at Trent Bridge for their game that finished today. When you have 500 plays 478 in four, albeit rain-ruined days, it makes for scant entertainment. While batsmen will prefer such tracks for obvious reasons, they're as likely to lure people down to the county game as lunchtime cross-stitch demonstrations.

Tomorrow Derbyshire head to the scenic splendour of Chesterfield to play Kevin Dean's All Star Select From the Finest Players in the Derbyshire Premier League XI, or whatever it is called. It will be a good test and sees a debut for Albie Morkel. I think the Queens Park boundaries are well within his range and hope that he hits his best form early.

Supporters go to T20 to see sixes and fours - as WG Grace once said, "to see me bat, not you bowl". With the greatest respect to the bowlers, T20 without the boundaries is like operatic arias without the high C at the end - somewhat less appealing. We need to ensure that strokes can be played with a degree of confidence to pull in the crowds, but the tracks are slow enough to allow our array of spinners a chance to shine and cramp the opposition style.

Mind you, we look like being without a couple of them for the T20. Chesney Hughes is unlikely to bowl, having not done so all season, while the sight of Tom Knight limping around the County Ground with a protective boot around his lower leg doesn't suggest he will be playing anytime soon. Such protection is usually indicative of minor ligament damage and may see the young left-armer out for a week or two.

If we get many more injuries to our bowlers, we may yet see Mike Hendrick and Bob Swindell return to the side. I'd reckon they're ahead of me in the pecking order...

More tomorrow, with news from Chesterfield.


Marc said...

I think you should encourage some of your e-mailers to take a more active part on the blog,Peakfan,or are they afraid to air their thoughts in public?.

I think most people accept the difficulties faced by young players in any sport. It's never easy and learning curves can be steep at times. The question is whether we are all being sucked into believing the players we have now are fundamentally good enough and it's merely a case of waiting for it all to click into place.

Over the years and long before the academy ever appeared we have had countless young players, most of whom have one thing in common; they failed to make the grade. The set up may differ nowadays but that just means an even greater number will end up falling by the wayside.

The assumption that we now have several stars in the waiting is wholly false,in my view and out of the current crop I think only a couple will be left standing at the end of the battle.

Some of these players still have time on their side,Burgoyne,slater, Knight, the Hughes duo and one or two others, but at what point do you draw the line and accept it,s not going to happen?. With one eye on ECB funding, those decisions have to be made at around 24/25, earlier than may have been the case in the past. Cricket is a game for younger men now and while most would agree that players peak at around 28-32, the pressure to establish themselves as county regulars some four or five years before that age is Increasing every season.

The blueprint put forward by the club is going to be carried out come hell or high water and will remain too inflexible,at least for my liking,but I don't think there is much alternative to at least sticking with the fundamentals. Bringing our own players through is an idea most would agree with. Where we may differ has more to do with the standard of those coming through than the actual concept.

We are an average second division team at this moment in time and still a long way short of anything resembling a good one day team. Some players will do better next season at a lower level and I'm not just talking about younger players, but I honestly believe that for many,division two will be as good as it gets.

Peakfan said...

Good comment Marc. As for those who choose to mail...their prerogative. Not everyone wants to be shot down in public! I dont mind either way though public discussion and debate is always encouraged as long as it is well thought through and not personal. Yours always welcome my friend...

Anonymous said...

Only one former Academy player played in the last three County Championship matches. Ben Slater.

Ross Whiteley has been injured, Dan Redfern and Tom Poynton were pulled from the action quite early in the campaign, despite some very good performances last year.

The CC defeats, often from strong positions, were reflective of the whole team failing to score good second innings scores when the pressure came on.

There have been some encouraging performances from former Academy players in the YB40.

We all want to win but sadly some of our dreary internet commentators
forget that there is another team playing often with very strong players supported by huge financial clout.

Get behind all the players, whoever is chosen and enjoy the cricket from both teams. It is what separates our sport from the tribal silliness involved in football.

Marc said...

There is a somewhat different mentality in cricket as compared to football and generally speaking people are much more patient and more tolerant of failure. However, it is still a results based industry and most supporters of any team would reasonably expect to see ongoing improvements.

I think sometimes there is too much emphasis placed on the financial side and the often held view that money is the sole route to success. No doubt that financial clout can be advantageous but having a smaller budget does not necessarily mean a good team cannot be built and a structure put in place to maintain that.

I suspect our own youth structure is along similar lines to many other counties and quite possibly better than some. The financial aspect doesn't really come into it until players are established and would then be in a position to demand higher wages,so money is not really a deciding factor when talking about teenagers and players in their early twenties. On that basis we should,at least on paper, be able to produce players of similar quality to those of our rivals. Hanging on to any good ones is a different matter entirely.

Having watched Derbyshire since the mid 1960s I am well used to losing but that doesn't make it any easier to swallow and resting on our laurels will never see us rise above mediocrity. I don't believe we can't have a competitive team at Derbyshire in all forms of the game and a team where losing is the exception rather than the rule.

Anonymous said...

The point was missed. Blame has been incorrectly attached for this season with the former academy players when they haven't even been playing.

The understandable punt that Godleman would be a 'Palladino' hasn't yet worked. The rest of the middle order has been a problem including relatively experienced players.

It's the nature of the game. We could have won some of those games but failed to do so. That's cricket. England just failed to win two recent big games but both games were excellent cricket entertainment.

It doesn't spell disaster or misery.We won Div2 last year ! It hasn't gone so well so far. You learn, move on and have another go.

However, if you think moaning without thoroughly explaining your alternatives is helpful, please carry on.

Peakfan said...

Good comments anon - please put a name in future though.
I'm assuming your 'moan' comment isn't directed at me, as I am unaware of making anything other than constructive, critical comment.